Category Archives: Cornucopia of thoughts

November: An appropriate time for a cornucopia

Posted by Steve

Quite a bit to talk about in the aftermath of the J.J. Hardy trade.  This off-season will really be all about starting pitching, so that’s what I’ll largely focus on here.

Before we get into that, though, the Brewers made the correct move in declining the $3.7 million option on David Weathers in 2010.  Weathers is no longer a solid reliever, and that money will be better spent elsewhere.  Now if they’d only do the same with Braden Looper’s option…

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In a blog entry published yesterday, Buster Olney ranked the Brewers number 1 on his list of teams “ready and willing to pay the price to land an ace.”  He dismissed Roy Halladay and Javier Vazquez because he doesn’t believe they want to trade from an already depleted farm system to land a one-year rental.  Instead, he suggests the Brewers could aggressively pursue John Lackey.  He is right to say that the Brewers can afford him; they were willing to spend $100 million on CC Sabathia last season.

Problem is, Lackey’s good, but he’s no CC.  Career ERA of 3.81, 2.72 K/BB ratio.  If you’re into labeling, Lackey is probably more like a strong number two starter on an ideal playoff team from here on out.  He’d probably be as good as or possibly even better than Yovani Gallardo, which would be a huge upgrade to the pitching staff, but at what cost?  Lackey will be the premiere starting pitcher in free agency, which means he’ll almost surely get at least five years.  After the Jeff Suppan debacle, I’m not crazy about the Brewers giving any pitcher more than three years unless he’s a bona fide stud without a prior injury history(a la CC).  Lackey hasn’t been seriously injured, but he has missed time each of the last two seasons with elbow problems (never a good sign) and is 31.  Paying $15 or so million to a 36-year-old John Lackey is not in the Brewers’ best interests.

The Brewers will likely express interest, as they should, but I imagine they’ll ultimately decide to look elsewhere once the bidding war heats up.

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There are other options worth exploring in free agency.  Randy Wolf isn’t bad, but he’s probably in line for at least $8 million a year for three years.  Names like Doug Davis and Jon Garland do not interest me unless they somehow came cheap; the Brewers don’t need more number four starters making $6-10 million.  The type of players they should look at are talented ones that come with injury/durability issues, but will come at a discounted price for that reason.  Rich Harden, Erik Bedard, Justin Duchscherer and even our old pal Ben Sheets fits into this category.  All three are number 1/2 starter caliber when healthy, but none of them are likely to receive more than a one or two year offer, with the possible exception of Harden.

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Another name connected with the Brewers is Mark Mulder.  Mulder pitched under newly hired pitching coach Rick Peterson during his best years in Oakland, and the speculation is that he’d like to reunite with Peterson for a comeback attempt.  Mulder would not be too expensive, but then again, he shouldn’t be counted on as a top-of-the-rotation guy anymore.

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At minimum, I’d expect the Brewers to sign one starter and trade for another.  There are two types of trades we might see–a blockbuster, in which multiple players are moved for a good young pitcher with multiple years left before free agency.  In this scenario, Mat Gamel is almost certain to be dealt, as he is one of the Brewers most valuable trading chips.  The other type of trade is trading a mid-level prospect or two for a solid, established veteran making much more than league minimum.  I’ll throw out Aaron Harang’s name as an example.  Cincinnati was rumored to be shopping him at the deadline, so I’m assuming he could be available again.  The Reds probably wouldn’t require much in a trade if the Brewers took all of Harang’s salary, which they have room for.

I’m very curious to see what the Brewers do this off-season.  Forming a formidable pitching staff for next season is an incredibly daunting task considering how bad it was in 2009.  We were treated with an early start to the off-season with the Hardy trade, but we’ll likely have to wait at least a few weeks before the ball really gets rolling.

Return of the Sha-wuuhhh?

Posted by Steve

My dad pulled off an incredibly cruel prank on me today.  Here’s how the phone conversation went:

D: So, did you hear the news about Ned Yost?

S: Did Houston actually hire him!?

D: Yep!

S: Oh my God!  That’s fantastic!  I don’t believe it!

D: A five-year contract!

S: WHAT!?!? (about ready to pass out)

D:  Nah, I’m just kiddin’.  He did have his interview today, though.

Boy, that will sure let the wind out of your sails.  Still, the fact that he’s actually being considered has me in a great mood.  Can you imagine having Ned Yost in the Brewers’ division?  I need to stop thinking about this to avoid getting my hopes up.

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If you watch any of the playoff games on TBS, pay attention to the strike zone they’ve been showing.  I guarantee there will be a minimum of ten missed ball/strike calls that were more than three inches off–in other words, not even borderline calls.  More likely, it will be 15-20 or more in a game.  In this technological age, how can this still be considered acceptable?  These people are the very best umpires in the world, and their ineptitude is front and center for the world to see.  When Phil Cuzzi can’t tell a fair ball from a foul one while standing 15 feet away, isn’t that proof that an improvement is needed?

The two main arguments against replay, or even an electronic strike zone, hold no water with me.

Adding replay would take more time and add to the length of the game.  Dan told me the other day that he watched someone argue this on ESPN as highlights of Jim Leyland arguing a call played in the background.  Hilarious.  Managers coming out to argue doesn’t slow down the game?  There’s a decent chance that adding this could actually cut down on game time when you consider that we wouldn’t need to watch mangers arguing for minutes at a time.  Put an official in the press box who’s assigned to replays and can immediately look at them, and it wouldn’t even be as much of an ordeal as home run calls currently are.

Umpires and human error are part of the game. Really?  Part of the game?  Ask any team who gets screwed by a bad call if they think it should be part of the game.  It’s been part of the game because, until recently, it was the best option available.  Now, an option exists that is more efficient than human umpires, but baseball refuses to use it.  As usual, the sport is behind the times.  Football has had an effective replay system for years, and it’s definitely improved the game.  Basketball uses instant replay.  Even tennis has a challenge replay system.  Yet here sit the old timers in control of baseball, resisting any sort of change from “back in the day.”

Are we really saying that having umpires and the element of human error is more important than getting calls right?  Because I’ll never be convinced of that.

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The Brewers writers at the Journal-Sentinel once again did their “player grades” at the end of the season, and once again I take exception to many of them.  Here are the ones I disagree with the most.

Jacon Kendall: C

C?  As in average?  Because Jason Kendall wasn’t even close to average, particularly on offense.  Comically, the writers admit that Kendall’s effectiveness at throwing out runners dropped dramatically, and that he has no power.  Yet his grade is held up by things that are completely intangible, such as his “toughness, leadership, the way he calls games and the way he handles himself behind the plate.”  Commence nausea.  I can’t believe how much people are willing to put up with a crappy player because of this garbage.

Braden Looper: C+

Oh goodness.  That’s above average.  Looper was decidedly below average.  He was actually bad.  His FIP was the worst in the Majors among qualified starters.  His strikeout rate was poor, and his home run rate was abysmal–also worst in the Majors (by far).  Literally the only good thing you can say about Braden Looper is that he stayed healthy all year.  Yet, even though they site his insane run support average of 8.97 runs per game, they still give him some credit for garnering 14 wins.

Rickie Weeks earns an INCOMPLETE, which I guess I understand, but then how can they give Alcides Escobar a B+?  Escobar had 134 plate appearances this year, while Weeks had 162.  Weeks was obviously far more productive… So how can Escobar receive a grade when Weeks did not?  What did Escobar do to deserve a B+?  Hit for a .701 OPS?  Weeks’ .857 OPS wasn’t worth grading, though.  Naturally.

Better yet, they concluded that Mat Gamel’s 148 plate appearances of .760 OPS was worth a C-.  Escobar got to play regularly, while Gamel would go days at a time without an appearance.  How does this add up?

Wrapping up June with a Thought Cornucopia

Posted by Steve

JSOnline.com

Heckuva game tonight!  That picture just about says it all.  When Mike Burns defeats Johan Santana, it’s safe to describe that as stealing a win.  After a rough stretch, the Brewers have rattled off four wins in five games and are back atop the NL Central.  There are plenty of things to talk about lately, and it’s been awhile since we’ve had a Cornucopia of Thoughts, so let’s get this party started quickly.

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We’ll start with the bad news.  Jeremy Jeffress, the Brewers’ top pitching prospect entering the year and a first round pick from a few years ago, has been suspended 100 games for testing positive for a “substance of abuse.”  If you’re wondering why it’s such a harsh punishment, it’s because this is actually the third time Jeffress has tested positive.  He actually served a 50-game suspension two years ago for the same problem, and if he manages to test positive one more time, he faces a lifetime ban from minor league baseball.

Jeffress has admitted to testing positive for marijuana in the past, and it’s being assumed that this latest positive test is also from marijuana.  A lifetime ban might seem harsh, but regardless of your views on the the legalization issue, it’s pretty much impossible to defend Jeffress at this point.  His value is just about nil now, and he’s dangerously close to throwing away his baseball career.  This is a tough blow for an organization that’s already short on impact pitching.

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I’ve become pretty annoyed by the Brewers’ treatment of Mat Gamel.  There’s no reason he should be sitting on the bench as much as he has.  I understand that Casey McGehee is playing great, but there’s no reason Craig Counsell should be playing over Gamel as much as he has.  Ken Macha is obviously not crazy about having Gamel’s defense in the lineup, but how is Gamel supposed to improve his defense if he isn’t playing?

The bottom line is that if Gamel isn’t going to get regular playing time in Milwaukee, he needs to be back in AAA so he can continue to work on his defense.  The argument may be that the Brewers are in “win now” mode, and that Gamel should be up because he makes the big league club better, but that’s not even necessarily the case.  The Brewers have an infielder in the minors, Adam Heether, who is lighting up AAA to the tune of a .991 OPS.  They could easily swap out Gamel for Heether and not miss a beat from what they’ve had since Gamel’s been up.  Heether is 27, so there’s not the same need to get him playing time that there is with Gamel.

I hate to see Gamel burning up service time if he’s not even going to get semi-regular playing time.

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For whatever reason, Mark DiFelice hasn’t been placed in the high leverage role that he was before having the sore arm.  He’s pitched in non-close situations frequently since returning to the team, and I can’t figure out why.  What’s troubling to me is that Macha has deferred to Todd Coffey over DiFelice is close situations lately.  Any way you slice it, DiFelice is the superior pitcher.

We saw an example of this in tonight’s game.  With David Wright set to hit, DiFelice was pulled from the game in favor of Coffey.  Can someone please give Macha a copy of DiFelice’s splits?  Right handed hitters are OPSing .390(!) against DiFelice.  That doesn’t scream ‘Take him out of the game’ when the opposing team’s best right-handed hitter is at the plate.

With Stetter against lefites and DiFelice against righties, Macha has some great weapons to bridge the gap to Trevor Hoffman.  He needs to start using DiFelice the way he should be used, which is as a righty neutralizer.

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Alright, I have to make one positive point, right?  Prince Fielder is having an absolute monster year.

Twenty home runs is great, as is the .306 batting average, but what’s really made the difference for Prince is his patience.  Fielder has always been a fairly patient hitter, but his eye this year has been outstanding.  His OBP before last night’s game was .424, which is uncharted territory for him (career high of .395).  Barring something very bad, Fielder will shatter the team record for walks in a season.

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Time for some tidbits.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this job, it’s that nobody enjoys being a Major League baseball player more than Cincinnati Reds infielder Adam Rosales.  This guy is literally always happy when on the baseball field.  At first I couldn’t tell if it bugged me, but now I love when I get a Reds game and he’s in the lineup so I can see what he’ll do next.  Check out his sprint around the bases for his first career home run.  Other great clips that I wasn’t able to find: Rosales leaping into the air with a jumpkick after a Reds walkoff win, and a post-game interview in which he yells, “It’s like a dream come true!” through maniacal laughter.

Check him out the next time you see a Reds game, but do it soon.  Rosales has plummeted to a .561 OPS, so he might not be in the big leagues much longer.

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I’m starting to feel like a GM at work, but not because of the job itself.  We’re allowed to switch games, and there are at least four Yankee fans in the office.  This means that whenever I get a Yankee game, I’ll have at least two people ask me to switch.

As the only Brewer fan in the office, this works heavily in my favor.  Yankee fans regularly try to trade me Brewer games for Yankee games.  I even talk like a GM to up the trade value.  “I’m not motivated to move my Yankee game at this time, but I’m willing to listen to offers.”

I had a Yankee game today, and it had more value than normal because Joba Chamberlain was starting (Yankee fans love them some Joba).  I actually had a guy say to me today, “I have some Brewer games next month that I could offer for that game today, but I’d rather acquire Tim’s Brewer game tonight to use and keep those games as bargaining chips down the line.”  Awesome.

The Fanboy Curse

Posted by Steve

I’m becoming convinced that something about me is dangerous.  Like any Brewer fan, I like most of the players.  There are, however, some who I like a lot more than most fans.  For years my favorite player has been Ben Sheets, who has to be one of the unluckiest players in the game.  For the last several years he has been plagued by some of the most obscure ailments: a herniated disc, vestibular neuritis, a torn lat, blisters, a groin strain, an inflamed finger ligament.  Finally the big blow came in the form of shoulder surgery.  Through all of that I stood up for Sheets when those ailments clouded the fact that whenever he was healthy he was elite.

If you’ve been here before, you know another player I like a lot more than most is Rickie Weeks.  Weeks has had his struggles ever since the Brewers rushed him to the majors, both offensively and defensively.  I stood by his potential and stayed patient, always feeling he’d become a good player.  Over the years he has battled wrist and thumb injuries.  A few weeks ago he was hit in the face with a 94 mph fastball.  Yesterday, he injured his wrist again.  There is still no word on the severity of the injury, but he already left St. Louis to get it checked out.  If this is serious, it’s incredibly frustrating.  He was on his way to a very good season; he even had a decent shot at the All-Star Game if he kept it up.  I’m still hoping this was precautionary, but a 15-day DL stint at minimum seems likely.  I don’t see why they’d have immediately sent him to get it checked if it wasn’t at least that serious.

If I was Mark DiFelice, I’d stay away from cutlery, lawn mowers, ovens, salad tongs, etc. as much as possible.

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Speaking of DiFelice, word is starting to get out around the Major Leagues.  Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports has a great article on DiFelice out today.  His quote is my favorite part:

“There’s something to say for how slow I throw,” DiFelice said. “Guys hate hitting against me, because they wonder if I’m going to throw anything else, if I’ve got something up my sleeve. Nope. Sorry.”

Love it!  I also love the exchange with Edinson Volquez.

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We had GamelWatch, but there is no need for EscobarWatch for the Brewers’ supposed top prospect.  Escobar is off to a very slow start at AAA, with an OPS of .677.  This reiterates how foolish it would have been to trade Hardy and hand the shortstop position to Escobar without having him earn it first.  Escobar would have been an automatic out in the lineup (i.e. Jason Kendall at best) if he was in Milwaukee to start the year.  He’s still young, and Hardy is still under contract through next season, so there’s absolutely nothing wrong with giving Escobar at least a full season in AAA.

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Might as well at least mention that the first place Brewers are absolutely on fire, huh?  A sweep of St. Louis tonight would be outstanding.  Ever since their whining last year about the Brewers’ having the audacity to untuck their jerseys after a win, beating the guardians of baseball etiquette has been at least as enjoyable as beating the Cubs.  The self-proclaimed “best fans in baseball” who can’t even sell out a Saturday game against the team they share first place with need to get over themselves.  It was suggested at brewerfan that Brian and Bill untuck their shirts for the postgame today if the Brewers win.  I wholeheartedly support this.  Let’s make it two sweeps in a row!

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I should know better than to even look at PECOTA’s playoff odds at this point after the Brewers’ collapses the last few years, but I simply can’t help myself.  Currently PECOTA gives the Crew a 58.6 % chance at making the playoffs, compared to 62% for the Cubs.  I believe they only gave the Brewers around a 25% chance at the start of the season, but they are currently projecting 93 wins.  And that’s all I’m going to say about that at this point. 

Hey, I’m walkin’ here! That’s what people say in New York.

Posted by Steve

So much to talk about… Where to begin?  The Crew has been playing well lately.  April has pretty much gone as expected.  Struggled through the first half of the month against tougher teams and good pitchers, and making up ground against ones who aren’t as good.  They continue to completely own the Pirates.  I believe it’s 14 straight wins, which is just downright batty.  Anyway, let’s get this party started quickly.

Plate discipline

I’ll start with the topic that was the inspiration for the post title.  Incidentally, if you know what the title is referencing, you have good taste.

The Brewers are walking like it’s nobody’s business!  The team is currently fourth in the NL in walks, compared to ninth last season.  Two guys I harped on all last season for poor plate discipline, Corey Hart and Ryan Braun, have really been great this month.  Hart had 27 walks all of last season but has 12 this month.  Last night he was 2-2 with three walks!  Braun has an incredible 1:1 k/bb ratio with 14 walks and just 14 strikeouts.  Offensively, Braun, Cameron and Hart have been tremendous in April.  If Braun and Hart are able to keep up this plate discipline all season, they’ll have monster years.  Braun in particular will challenge for the MVP.

Of course it’s so incredibly early, and things could go south in a hurry for those two as far as patience is concerned, but it was still worth discussing.

Rickie Weeks

You’re probably assuming I’m going to use this section to rain compliments on my guy Rickie Weeks for what he’s done so far this season.  Not the case.  As encouraging as the power numbers have been for Weeks (who would have thought he’d be tied for the team lead in home runs at this point?), I’m a bit concerned about his lack of walks so far.  Weeks has just three walks this month compared to 19 strikeouts.  He’s hitting .268, and I figured if Weeks hit .268 he’d have an OBP of .370 or .380.  Well, it’s just .318 (he also has three HBPs).

Just like I’m not ready to proclaim Braun and Hart as patient hitters after one month, I’m not ready to make any conclusions about Weeks’ lack of walks so far.  This is the naked eye test, which means take this with a grain of salt, but it appears to me that Weeks is being more aggressive at the plate.  That’s helped him make better contact, which is something he needed to do.  Last year he let a lot of hittable strikes float by, and he’s not doing that as much this season.

His increase in slugging has coincided with a drop in OBP.  Whether that’s a correlation is unclear at this point, but let’s hope not.  The hope was that he’d pick up the slugging without sacrificing the OBP.  I want Ian Kinsler, not Brandon Phillips.

Side note:  Speaking of Kinsler, want reason #21,432 the MVP voting is a joke?

Dustin Pedroia last year: .326 batting average, .376 on-base percentage, .493 slugging percentage, won MVP.

Ian Kinsler last year: .319 batting average, .375 on-base percentage, .517 slugging percentage, 20th in MVP voting.

Mark DiFelice

You’re probably assuming I’m going to use this section to rain compliments on my guy Mark DiFelice for what he’s done so far this season.  And you’re absolutely correct!  DiFelice has easily been the Brewers best reliever this year.  The best way to evaluate a pitcher is by defense-independent numbers: walks, strikeouts and home runs allowed.  So far, DiFelice is walking 2.5 per nine innings, striking out 10.6 per nine innings and allowing .8 home runs per nine innings.  All three figures are outstanding.

Before the season started, I told a few people at work the Brewers were going to get a huge season from DiFelice.  Nobody had even heard of him; keep in mind these are all baseball nuts.  It’s now reached the point where I feel the need to make an announcement after each scoreless inning Big D throws.  I come home from work, and the first thing I say to my roommate is “1-2-3 inning, two Ks for DiFelice!”  I’m sure everyone’s beyond annoyed already.  Only five more months guys!

Hell’s Bells!

Oh, it’s already nice having Trevor Hoffman.  This is very reminiscent of the Brewers adding Mike Cameron to the roster at the end of April last year.  I like how the bullpen shapes up with Hoffman in place.

I do have one gripe.  I couldn’t help but notice the sound of a chiming bell after a Hoffman strikeout the other night.  Come on Brewers!  This is the same sound effect you used for a “Big Ben” Sheets strikeout!  You can’t re-hash the Sheets sound effect!  That’s weak sauce!  What’s wrong with playing a quick clip of Hell’s Bells or something?

Julio vs. Swindle

I was hoping the Brewers would cut Jorge Julio when Hoffman came off the DL, but instead they optioned R.J. Swindle back to the minors.  Swindle, like DiFelice, has great numbers in the minors the last couple seasons.  I loved the idea of having two lefties in the bullpen, particularly against teams loaded with left-handed power hitters like the Mets, Phillies and Reds.

Unfortunately, the deciding factor in this decision was not baseball related.  It came down to money and options.  Julio is set to make around a million dollars, so even though he’s been ineffective (as he was last season), his salary bought him more time.  Meanwhile, Swindle had options remaining, so he was the odd man out.  Swindle is only 25, so I’m pretty sure he’ll have a lengthy career in the big leagues.  Let’s hope the Brewers are the ones to give him that shot.

Parra Chart

Well, that didn’t take too long.  I already had to chart a Manny Parra game the other day.  I had a lot of fun attempting to tell the difference between his splitter, change-up and slider.  Making it more fun was the fact that he continues to nibble, issue walks and drive me crazy.  I’m beginning to get concerned that Parra’s turning into Oliver Perez.  Still waiting on a good start from him.  We’ll get one sometime…

Perks of the job

I’ve mentioned funny things that come from watching baseball games all day, with a specific example being that kid in the pink shirt at the Rangers game last year with the flying elbow.  There have been some good ones so far in April.

At a Blue Jays game last week, we had a grown man in the stands WITH A GLOVE completely whiff on a foul pop up and take it right off the cheekbone.  They showed him two minutes later and he already had a HUGE welt.  I think we watched that replay about 10 times.

In the Orioles game the other night, a fly ball was hit down the left field line in foul territory.  Nelson Cruz made a nice catch along the wall, but not before a fan who was a good ten feet from where the ball ended up completely leaped onto the field.  He also mistimed his jump terrible.  The ball was still in the air, and you just saw a guy go flying across the ball about a half second before Cruz caught it.

A lot of come from terrible analysts as well.  Bert Blyleven may deserve to be in the Hall of Fame more than anyone currently not in, but all it took was one Twins game for me to decide that he’s a bad analyst.  Blyleven and “sideline reporter” Ron Coomer were discussing pitch counts during a Francisco Liriano start.  They both felt pitch counts have ruined the game (and completely disregarding the fact that pitchers careers last much longer than they did back in the day).  They continued to ridicule the Twins for keeping Liriano on a pitch count.  It honestly lasted like three minutes.  Finally, the Twins play-by-play announcer, who had been silent for the entire discussion, finally blurted out, “Guys, Liriano missed ALL OF LAST YEAR with an elbow injury!”  It was awesome.

During a Mets broadcast, the play-by-play was discussing Bill James and said something along the lines of, “Some guys come from the Bill James school of thought that clutch hitting doesn’t exist.”  Ron Darling fired back with this gem: “Well, how many times has Bill James come up to bat with runners in scoring position?”  Hilarious!  Because we all know you aren’t qualified to discuss, study or have opinions about baseball unless you’ve played it professionally.

Bill may be getting better at his scouting reports, but I assure you, most analysts of other teams are worse.  This is an actual scouting report of Jair Jurrjens from a Braves broadcast.  It rivals anything Bill had last season.

Chocolate Eggs

We want second half J.J.

Can be dyn-o-mite!

I never heard explanations, so I have no clue what chocolate eggs could mean.  Somehow, I like it better that way.

The City of Brotherly Love

Posted by Steve

Been a few days since I checked in.  I haven’t been able to watch each game, but I’ve followed them as much as I could and was able to watch most of Sunday’s game.

The main topic of conversation the last couple days has been Todd Coffey.  He’s been good so far, but it seems some people are overreacting a bit.  That game on Sunday took quite a bit of luck to pull out the win, particularly the line shot to Hall for a double play.  Nine innings isn’t enough to tell anything, but if Coffey is going to continue at a high level he’ll probably need to increase his strikeouts.  He’s already helped the Brewers quite a bit so far, but I’m not even ready to count on him as a prominent reliever yet.  I’m not ruling that out, but nothing he’s shown throughout his career suggests he will keep this up.

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It’s been a pretty frustrating start, but what I’m most excited about is Corey Hart’s approach at the plate.  In 657 plate appearances last year, he drew 27 walks.  This year he has eight walks after 53 plate appearances.  That patience has led to a .385 OBP so far.  If he keeps this patience up he’ll be able to replicate 2007.

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It’s officially time for GamelWatch 2009.  Mat Gamel is off to a white hot start in AAA.  He’s hitting .436… That’s his batting average!  The Brewers will have a very difficult decision to make if he keeps mashing.  His left handed bat would bring some much-needed balance to the Brewers’ lineup.  A Gamel/Hall platoon would look great at third, and it would allow Hall to go back to his supersub role on a part time basis.

Unfortunately, Gamel’s defense is still a big issue.  It’s very reminiscent of Braun a couple years ago when he was destroying AAA pitching yet playing a brutal third base.  In the past the Brewers have called up their defensive-challenged prospects to get a good bat in their lineup.  They seemed committed to giving Gamel a full year at third in Nashville before calling him up, but I wouldn’t be surprised if things change.

The Brewers are not a rebuilding team, which means the bottom line this year is about winning.  If they think Gamel improves the team (which would mean his offensive boost would outweigh his defensive issues), he should probably be up.  If he does get called up, they’ll probably go the route the Brewers went with Braun or what is happening with players like David Price, Tommy Hanson and Matt Wieters this year and wait until May or June to avoid starting his arbitration clock early.  I’ll be keeping a close eye on how he does in the meantime.

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Sticking in the minor leagues, there’s finally some good news on former 5th overall pick Mark Rogers.  Rogers was an uber-prospect who has missed two full seasons due to shoulder surgeries, but is finally back pitching this season.  Amazingly, in his second start since coming back he hit 97 mph on the radar gun.  Rogers is still only in Brevard County and has a long road ahead of him, but it’s exciting that he’s been able to come back and pitch pain free.

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Finally, some exciting news!  I will be attending the Brewers Phillies games on Wednesday and Thursday.  I’ll be decked out in Brewer gear, so I’m expecting to get stuff thrown at me.  If I make it out alive I’ll hopefully be able to check out some of the city and try a Philly Cheesesteak.  Most importantly, hopefully I’ll see a couple Brewer victories.

Musings of a man who skipped class this morning to muse

Posted by Dan

I’m gonna do this Steve style, which means one thing: bullet points.

  • Is there anything more overrated in baseball than hitting for the cycle? I mean, it’s a nice, interesting accomplishment, but come on. My main problem with it, is that if Fielder goes 4-4 tomorrow with 2 HR, a double and a single, it will get merely a passing mention between the Red Sox and Yankees highlights. Make one of those HR a triple, and its breaking news/history. It’s also a less productive stat line.  Billy Ripken, on the MLB Network today was talking about it and said two things that seemed ridonkulous. First, he claimed “late in the game, it’s like a no-hitter. It’s all you’re thinking about.” Then, speaking of Orlando Hudson (who completed his cycle with a 6th inning triple) said, “As soon as he hit it he knew he was going for a triple. If he gets thrown out, oh well, he gets thrown out.” That seems absurd. Granted it was a huge Dodger lead at the time, but I’d like to think no MLB player would think like that. 
  • Despite the fact that seven games is a meaningless sample size, I’ll quickly highlight a few good things: First, Corey Hart has a 5BB:8K ratio through his first 26 ABs. Last year he only walked 27 times in 612 ABs, which is Michael Bourn-esque. The Brewers offense cannot afford to have someone compile 600+ ABs with a .300 OBP in front of Braun and Fielder this season. Secondly, Weeks had a good first week. Going .276/.364/.448 against tough righties Lincecum, Cain, Harden, Zambrano, Dempster and Volquez. The 2-5 start is discouraging but that is a tough week of matchups for a nearly exclusively right handed lineup.
  • Unfortunately, Brewers pitching racked up a brutal 35 BBs to only 45 strikeouts over the first week.  That ties them with Toronto for the most walks in MLB, which is simply terrible.  The 45 strikeouts are also the 10th worst in all of baseball. Jeff Suppan is obviously terrible, and his contract is going to be a huge hindrance this year and next year. I’ve heard people suggest moving him to the pen and replacing him with Villanueva (if Suppan continues to struggle, and Hoffman returns). I hate this idea. Villanueva’s skillset allows him to come in for high leverage situations in late innings and also go multiple innings. His arm is too important to the bullpen to either return to the rotation or remain tied to the closer role long term which is why we need Hoffman to get healthy.  He reportedly threw Monday and felt well and is “on track” for an end of the month return.
  • Lastly, shock and horror on Sportscenter this morning as Chien Ming Wang got shelled again last night for the Yankees.  The general public thinks this guy is good (19 wins in 2006 and 2007 OMG OMG!) but in reality he has NEVER struck out more than 4.9 per nine innings in a full season. He gets alot of ground balls, but he’s certainly not nearly as good as his back to back 19 win seasons make Sportscenter think he is.